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ONTARIO, MAY 4th, 1909 :: :: :: :: :: 


The Rev. F. Graham Orchard, 

M.A., Cambridge 
Head Master o( St. Aiban's School, Brockville 




The Very Rev. Trie Dean of Ontario 

V&-1 \&A 



queeN's UNiveRsiT? 


Presented bit 

Dr. Robt. L. Reid 

Kingston, July 1979 


Queens University at Kingston 

Kingston, July, 1909. 

The precise meaning of the expression " The Inspiration of 
the Bible " is necessarily much a matter for discussion at the 
present time, when we are being asked to readjust our ideas as 
to many questions concerning Holy Writ as the result of what is 
called the Higher Criticism. The mechanical view, which the 
Church as a whole never maintained or formally bound itself to, 
still commends itself to some, but probably the majority even of 
Conservative thinkers no longer hold it in its extreme form. 
But when the Question is asked what theory is to take its place, 
the answer is not easy. Many of us, who hold in the strongest 
possible manner the belief that the Bible is uniquely inspired, 
would be puzzled to give a scientific definition of what exactly 
we mean by the word. The article is therefore well-timed, as 
being a scholarly and dispassionate attempt to throw light on 
the question. As I understand it, the writer does not desire to 
advance the views of any particular School, but rather to at- 
tempt to clear the ground for even further investigation. With- 
out therefore binding myself in any degree to the conclusions or 
arguments expressed therein, I have no hesitation in recom- 
mending Mr. Orchard's Essay to my brother Clergy as a stimu- 
lating and careful exposition of what he considers the proper 
method of approaching the question. He would, I am sure, be 
the last to claim to have finally disposed of it, but I know that 
what he has here set forth is the fruit of much study and 
thought and therefore thoroughly worthy of consideration. 

E. J. BIDWELL, M.A. (Oxford), D.D. 

Pean of Ontario. 

The Inspiration of the Bible 

As recent events in this country have shown, religious 
bodies are seriously divided on the question whether the results 
of Higher Criticism can be accepted or must be ignore4«ifc># 
those who believe the Bible to be the Inspired Word of <xq4- 
When one has eliminated all the acrimony which, strangely 
enough, is often infused into such discussions, there is still left 
on either side the argument much that makes it difficult to 
arrive at a definite conclusion in a vital matter. 

It is with considerable hesitation that this paper is under- 
taken. I have felt that, for my own part, I must know the 
position of affairs by reading the works of those religious 
leaders, who have given years to the study of the subject, and 
who therefore have most right to speak upon it. If by pointing 
out where they agree, and by stating their position of disagree- 
ment, we can arrive at some idea of the present phase of reli- 
gious thought, we shall at least be in a fair way to advance with 
them another step towards a truer appreciation of God's work- 
ings and God's revelation of Himself. 
I propose to confine myself to four distinct points : 

1. The general meaning of the term Inspiration. 

2. The scope of Inspiration. 

3. The various phases of the Doctrine of Inspiration. 

4. The analogy of the Written Word with the Incarnate 

The Books referred to in the foot-notes are : 

Dr. Sanday " Inspiration " (Bampton Lectures). 

Dr. Watson " Inspiration " 

"Lux Mundi " (edited by Bishop Gore). 

Dr. Mortimer " Catholic Faith and Practice " 


The General Meaning of the Term Inspiration. 

Inspiratio, deoTvuvoria used by Ecclesiastical writers as the 
process by which God delivered His Word, is clearly derived 

from 2 St. Tim: III. 16 ndaa ypatyr] dtoir evorog nai cjoi'/i/ung 

and in the Vulgate, Omnis Scriptura Divinitus inspirata 
utilis est ad docendum * * " Every scripture inspired 
of God is also profitable * * ". If we translate it in this way 
with R.V., with most modern and many ancient authorities, we 
see that St. Paul is not dogmatising on the Inspiration of the 
Old Testament, but merely stating the practical value given to 
Holy Scripture by Inspiration : and it is not too much to say 
with Dr. Fairbairn, that "the Inspiration of the men who read is 
as intrinsic and integral an element in the idea of Revelation 
as the Inspiration of the men who wrote/' Inspiration, then, is 
a Divine power working in men and filling them with a know- 
ledge of God : in His act of Inspiration God opens the eyes of 
men's minds to see that which He has unveiled. 

We must be very careful not to confuse Inspiration with 
Revelation, which is another and a distinct act of God whereby 
He unveils that which He desires men to see. Nor again must 
we limit Inspiration and Revelation entirely to the Bible which 
is, it is true, the work of Inspiration and a record of Revelation. 
To do this would be to confine Inspiration to the writers of the 
Bible, cutting short the work of the Holy Spirit in guiding and 
leading us into all truth, and also it would confound the Written 
Word with the Incarnate Word, which is the highest form of 

With regard to Inspiration it is significant to notice a feat- 
ure in the apparent method of God's workings, as St Paul puts it, 
" The purpose of God according to selection. "l I think we 
may trace a gradual contraction in the field where direct 
Inspiration acts. First it is a nation that is inspired. 

1 Romans IX-H. 


God reveals Himself by means of a people, separated 
from the mass of mankind. As the Revelation of Himself 
becomes more advanced, He apparently narrows down the 
sphere of His Inspirative activity and inspires men who 
are to convey His message to His people. Then comes a 
long period during which the sphere of Inspiration seems 
to be confined to the written books, at first separate 
works, afterwards one book, a natural change in point of view 
from plurality to unity of purpose : till in the fulness of time 
Inspiration becomes — for once and once only — merged into Reve- 
lation, both in their highest form as the Incarnate Word. 
Finally, may we not say that Inspiration has its particular, in- 
dividual, most strictly confined operation in the gift of the Holy 
Spirit on the day of Pentecost and ever afterwards to every true 
believer in the promises of the Son of God ? 

The character of Inspiration in this final stage is not different 
from that in the former stage. The Inspiration of God must be like 
Himself, always the same, because it is the projection of Him- 
self. The difference lies in the receiver of it. That we should 
receive it was the promise of the Son, who said that the Holy 
Spirit should be given to us to guide us into all truth. This 
makes it abundantly clear that though Revelation and Inspira- 
tion reached their climax in the Son of God, Inspiration must 
proceed within man for the reception and assimilation of Divine 
knowledge and truth as revealed in God's Son. " The Inspiration 
of the men who read is as intrinsic and integral an element in 
the idea of Revelation as the Inspiration of the men who wrote/' 

We pass now to our second point: 

The Scope of Inspiration. 

The Church has never defined the mode, the extent, the 
degree, the exact effects of Inspiration. Individual theories, at 
various times, have had wide acceptance, it is true, but the 
question seems to have been purposely left as it stands now in 

our sixth Article : " That Holy Scripture containeth all things 
necessary to Salvation and that it is of supreme authority in 
matters of faith. " Therefore as English Churchmen we are free 
to assume as large a liberty as will enable us to accept any 
theory of Inspiration which will. come within the wide limits of 
the above section of the sixth Article. This being so, we are 
left free to re-open the whole question of the scope of Inspira- 

The Bible is the only " Inspired " book that we possess; and 
as no independent definition of Inspiration exists, the only 
sound method is to study the facts presented by the Bible, and 
to formulate our theory of Inspiration accordingly. Unfor- 
tunately the reverse of this method has been widely used. A 
theory was framed, from a mistaken idea of general principles, 
and the Bible was made to conform with it. Now, this is the 
very charge we bring against the Tubingen School and other 
radical critics. We have our Bible to go to. We believe it to 
be the Inspired word of God and from it we ought at least to 
try and learn something of the methods God used in teaching 
His people and that line of study should give us an idea of the 
Scope of Inspiration. 

Perhaps the broadest illustration of God's method is to be 
found in the way He allowed the knowledge of Himself to grow 
within the narrow limits of one people whom He chose — how He 
strictly forbade this nation to have any intercourse with their 
neighbours — how all strange peoples who stood in the way of 
their expansion were exterminated, and that too, by His special 
command. This exclusiveness was as apparent in our Lord's 
day, as ever before. He Himself on one occasion assumed the 
haughty Pharisaical position when He said to the Syrophoe- 
nician woman "It is not meet to take the children's bread and 
cast it to the dogs."l We know, of course, that this attitude was 
adopted to try her faith: (this in itself is an instance of His 

l St. Matthew XV-26. 

method of teaching, to which reference will be made later) and 
we may say that the three years of our Lord's ministry were 
all but strictly confined to Jews and to the Jews of Palestine. 
And yet within a few short years, it is proved by unmistakable 
results that it had been the purpose of God all the while to 
make Himself known, in His own good time, as the God of the 
Gentiles. But this higher teaching, dimly, very dimly fore- 
shadowed before, was held in reserve, and judging by the various 
rules of Jewish society, and the way in which the Jews in- 
variably interpreted them, we can see that God treated them as 
children, adapting His revelation not merely to their weak- 
ness and childishness, but also to their religious and moral 

Take an instance of moral teaching. The law of divorce con- 
tained in Deuteronomy is one of the Divine statutes and ordin- 
ances commanded by God, nevertheless it is quite plainly con- 
trary to His mind as declared in the original institution of mar- 
riage, and in the words of our Lord, we see that God allowed 
this lower moral idea to be current, till men should be able to 
receive the higher teaching, "Moses for your hardness of heart 
suffered you to put away your wives : but from the beginning it 
hath not been so."l 

Yet another instance. God has respect to human weakness 
and accepts sacrificial gifts which have no value in His eyes, 
even as a father would accept and expect worthless or even 
distasteful gifts from his little child. We have only to read as 
far as the Psalms and the Prophets to see that the law of sacri- 
fices, though ordained expressly by God, was only a means to 
an end, that the superior teaching might grow out of the inferior: 
that, in fact, God reveals Himself in different ways, in different 
ages, and that this difference is made to suit inferior intelli- 
gence and lower spirituality. 

We have not the time at our disposal to multiply these 
instances, but I am sure that many others will occur to you. 

1 St. Matthew XIX-8. 


We see in every ordinance of God from the very beginning that 
Divine Restraint which seems to say in our Lord's own words: 
'-' I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear 
them now. "2 

We have unconsciously adopted this very idea in the train- 
ing of our children. We know by experience that the infant 
mind can only grasp one thing at a time and that thing must 
be on the level of the few ideas it already possesses, or at most 
an idea just above it, capable of making an intelligible im- 
pression when analogy is used. If, however, we go beyond his 
limit of intelligence, his interest is gone; or at best the most 
retentive infant mind will catch at an idea which it may not 
understand at the time, but which it will store up and bring out 
at some future time to startle us with its precocity. 

When, with the advance of years, the boy has imbibed many 
false, many distorted ideas, as well as many true ones, his 
training becomes more difficult. It is often necessary to appeal 
to his distorted ideas, even to his false ones, sometimes to 
leave them uncorrected, and to build upon these, that truth 
may grow out of falseness or exaggeration. And should it be our 
lot to have the teaching of those who have reached manhood 
with minds perverted by falsehood and wrong, the difficulty is 
greater still. The innocence of childhood has been wiped out, 
the mind cannot readily grasp new ideas, and the most patient, 
skilful treatment is necessary. Much that is absolutely false 
and immoral must remain till we have worked upon some frag- 
ment of truth which lies embedded in error. The error must 
be left untouched till the truth has grown under our fostering 

The Fathers of the Christian Church recognized this 
as the method of God at work in the Old Testament. 
Thus Gregory of Nazianzus, speaking of God's dealing 
with the Jews of old, describes how, in order to gain 
the co-operation of man's good will in working for his 

2 St. John XVI-12. 

recovery, He dealt " after the manner of a schoolmaster 
or a physician, and while curtailing part of their ancient cus- 
toms, tolerated the rest, making some concession to their tastes, 
just as physicians make their medicines palatable that they 
may be taken by their patients. For men do not easily abandon 
what long custom has consecrated. Thus the first law, while it 
abolished their idols, tolerated their sacrifices, allowed them to 
be circumcised: then when once they had accepted the removal 
of what was taken from them, they went further and gave up 
what had been conceded to them — in the first case their sacri- 
fices, in the second their practice of circumcision — and they 
become instead of heathens, Jews, instead of Jews, Christians, 
being betrayed as it were by gradual changes into acceptance 
of the Gospel. "l 

There is a further point which grows out of this. Be the 
pupil infant, youth or man, the idea implanted in him by his 
teacher is not often, we may say, never, of the same form as 
before it passed through his consciousness. It changes its char- 
acter or point of view or particular colour as it passes through 
the new element of the pupil's mind. It is assimilated to the 
texture of the mind which grasps it and becomes practically a 
new idea, at least as regards the way it is presented. We are 
often surprised at the interpretation made by others of something 
we have said to them. This may be due to one of two things, 
either the arrangement of ideas in their mind gives a different 
force to our remark, or their vocabulary being different to ours, 
they cannot interpret the shade of meaning we intended to 

I have made use of an ordinary function in our daily life as 
a basis on which we may build up an idea of the Scope of 
Inspiration. First, we must remember, we took our idea from 
the Bible : we feel that it is an idea that pervades the whole 
Bible, and next, we recognize it as a general principle in con- 

1 See Lux Mundi p. 329. 


scious creation. We will not say that this last point confirms 
the former; we have taken it because it helps us in a very small 
way to understand the perfect working of it in the former. 

God wills to make Himself known to man. He does not 
create a special race of men to convey His message. He 
chooses, from among those He has created, men whom He 
knows to be peculiarly fitted to receive the elements of divine 
knowledge. They had not always been worshippers of Him. 
Abraham, for instance, must be removed from his idolatrous 
surroundings: Moses was brought up as an Egyptian. Each, 
by his education, must have contracted many ideas quite con- 
trary to truth and morality. Much would have to be corrected, 
but much, also, must be left uncorrected while the growth of 
truth was going on. The divine truths which they were to 
convey to their generation must pass through their faulty man- 
hood and though they may have been the best of their race, 
their interpretation of God's will could only be made according 
to the limitations of their humanity. Still it was a progressive 
interpretation, leaving the idea of God clearer to their succes- 
sors than that with which they themselves started. 

Now, one very peculiar and particular limitation we must 
face : and that is, the clothing of their ideas in a human word, 
such as will convey adequate meaning to their hearers. Just 
as God did not create a special race of men to carry His mes- 
sage — so He did not create a special language to embody His 
truths. His people must understand His message, and (in all 
reverence we say it) they could only do that by use of words 
they understood. Words are the embodiment of ideas : by their 
means we are able to understand and appreciate the thought of 
another mind. 

It is a perfectly natural desire to know the origin and 
growth of things we see, and the Israelites had this desire with 
all other peoples. There must have been, — we know there were 
— many traditions about the beginnings of created things, cur- 

rent among the nations surrounding them. There is a wonder- 
ful similarity between these systems. As we know something 
about them we see that they were rilled with the crudest of 
ideas, but there was enough of truth in them to be used. And 
when we compare that given in the early chapters of Genesis 
with those of the Assyro-Babylonian peoples, we can trace the 
similarity, but we are more impressed with the new features, 
of which roughly speaking there are three. 

1. The one true God, the God of the Israelites, is supreme as 
the Creator. 

2. All things created are, in their essence, good. 

3. Man has a special relation to God, who gives him hope 
and promise. 

Now, nothing but Inspiration could have made this change. 
God inspired the writer to perceive these great truths, the only 
essential truths : but they had to pass through the writer's 
mind, had to be assimilated to other ideas in his mind and last 
of all had to be embodied in words representing things that he 
knew. That is the perfectly natural explanation why we have 
not an account as scientific as would be written to-day. But 
the Inspiration of that account is none the less evident. 

Within our idea of the scope of Inspiration it is all the 
more evident as coming from a man, who could not have orig- 
inated the ideas in his heathen surroundings. Humanly speak- 
ing, the truth, as we have it now, could not have been written 
down in words existing then, any more than the truth which we 
shall have in future ages could be adequately expressed in ideas 
and words that exist now. 

In conclusion then of this second point, we may say that the 
Scope of Inspiration lies within the limits of man's power to 
express the truth that has been revealed to him. He has but a 
limited stock of ideas, and only such words to express them as 
have already been used to describe old ideas. His share in the 
general flow of divine movement is like the small tributary that 


enters the great river of communicated knowledge: his stream 
of words has gathered much from the various soils it has pass- 
ed over, and particles of these remain in solution and cloud the 
full, deep meaning of that truth which God gave him. 

We may say, also, that the scope of the Inspiration of the 
Bible lies within the limits of the Spiritual and Moral Kingdoms. 
This is the sphere of God's saving grace. Mere intellectual 
knowledge and scientific research have nothing to do with the 
eternal salvation of a people or a man. The faculties employed 
in such activities may — we would rather say — must be used in 
the service of religion, but a knowledge of God that leads men 
into the way of salvation and keeps him there, can, as the Bible 
undoubtedly shows, exist quite apart from any specific or even 
fragmentary human knowledge. 

It will be helpful now, as our third point, to examine 

The History of the Doctrine 

and look at the various phases through which it has passed. 

Up to 50 years ago one theory held the field and had all the 
prestige which antiquity can give it. Stated briefly it was this: 
The various writers of the Holy Scriptures were the pens, not 
the penmen of God; they copied down with pen, ink and paper 
what was dictated to them by the Divine Spirit ; it was a me- 
chanical operation, suspending the exercise of human thought 
and ensuring the direct inspiration of every word. We should 
expect no less rigid a theory from a generation inheriting the 
ideas of an early civilization, and largely influenced by Pla- 
tonic philosophy. We can trace its entry into the Church 
through Philo, who upheld Plato's theory that when the Divine 
element comes into a man, the human must go out to make 
room for it. For • instance, to Philo there was nothing super- 
fluous in the Law: every little word is absolutely necessary. 
That he uses the LXX rather than the Hebrew does not weaken 
his contention, for he upheld in its most extravagant form the 
story of Aristeas describing the miraculous way in which the 


LXX translation was made. 

In support of this verbal accuracy are often quoted our 
Lord's words : " Till Heaven and Earth pass away, one jot or 
one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all things be 
accomplished/'l But the context of these words makes it clear 
that it was not Scripture as Scripture which He had in view; 
for He remarks almost immediately after, " Ye have heard what 
was said to them of old time. .*. .*. .but I say unto you/ J 2 In 
fact, He Himself proceeds to repeal commandments of the law, 
that His own better principles may be instilled. 

There is really no support for this plenary verbal inspira- 
tion to be found in the Bible, while everywhere therein we find 
reasons against it: errors in grammar, imperfections of style, 
discrepancies between one part and another. One has only to 
examine the quotations from the Old Testament in the New 
Testament to see that if St. Paul, for instance, believed in the 
full value of every single word, he was either very irreverent in 
making such copious changes as he does, or he had access to a 
text of the Hebrew and LXX which we have not now. In the 
latter case, it seems strange that, if every single word of his 
text was indispensable, it has not been allowed to survive in 
its original form. 

With regard to this theory Dr. Sanday points out the 
great difficulty presented to those who hold it. An examina- 
tion of the documents themselves reveals an unevenness in the 
character of their Inspiration. In both Old Testament and New 
Testament, there are, on the one hand, books where the presence 
of the gift is as clear as the sun at noon-day, while on the other, 
there are books where there is not evident the same strength of 
faith or perfect historical method and accuracy as in the other 
class. In fact there seems to be a maximum and a minimum 
degree of Inspiration. 3 How can we account for this, if we re- 

1 St. Matthew v-18. 2 St. Matthew v-27-28. 

3 See Sanday pp. 397-9. 


move the human element entirely from their composition and 
ascribe every detail of thought and word and arrangement in 
all the books to the same Divine Spirit uninterpreted by differ- 
ent minds ? The Jews themselves observed the different values 
of their books, and as they divided them into three classes 
according to their subject matter, so they supposed there were 
three degrees of Inspiration. 

This is another phase of the doctrine which has been held 
at different times — by the Jewish Rabbis, the Schoolmen and 
some modern writers. They have held that there are different 
degrees of Inspiration and have proceeded to do what is well- 
night impossible; to classify the books and even parts of books. 
In some, they say, the Holy Spirit suggests and dictates min- 
utely; in some, He only directs, leaving the human mind to de- 
scribe and arrange; in others, He elevates the strength and 
vigour of the human mind above its natural sphere: in others, 
again, He only superintends the work and preserves a human 
record from blemishes. 

There seems to be a large element of truth in this theory, 
but its general force is weakened by the fact that it proves, or 
attempts to explain, too much. While it is far more satisfactory 
than the "mechanical theory " and is a great step in what is 
now generally believed to be the right direction, yet it comes 
to us with all the faults of its adherents — the Rabbis and the 

Yet another phase can be traced from very early times, and 
it re-appeared in Europe during the 15th, 16th and 17th cen- 
turies. It has been called the Dynamical Theory. St. Augustine's 
words, describing the Inspiration of St. John in writing his Gos- 
pel, fitly define this form, ** Inspiratus a Deo, sed tamen 
homo/'l He is a man chosen by God as eminently fitted for the 
work of bearing record. He is inspired by God, but retains his 
human faculties. The teaching of Christ was not projected 

1 St. Augustine in Joann: I-i-1. 


supernaturally upon his mind and then committed to writing, 
but he had lived in the closest possible relations with our Lord, 
and had, for three years, daily received His teaching until his 
mind had become endued with a spirituality which would faith- 
fully and sympathetically interpret the truth he had received. 
His mind had been cleansed, strengthened and employed by the 
Divine author, but in the transmission of Divine Truth his 
humanity made possible the existence of imperfections and 
weaknesses in his writings. 

This is a typical instance" of that kind of Inspiration which 
Augustine attributed to the Bible. Each author wrote "ut quis- 
que meminerat et ut cuique cordi erat," and a similar theory 
was held by Erasmus, Baxter and Paley, who have elaborated 
the idea into such a form of Inspiration as secures accuracy in 
all matters of conduct and doctrine, but does not necessitate 
complete accuracy in other particulars. 

In reviewing all these phases of the Doctrine we cannot help 
being struck with a feature common to all of them. They are 
obviously framed to meet objections raised either within or out- 
side the Church. They explain more or less satisfactorily how 
discrepancies and weaknesses and inaccuracies can occur in an 
Inspired book; but the results obtained, at any rate as far as 
the nature of Inspiration is concerned, are negative. Their 
mistake seems to lie in the method pursued. The last two 
phases, at least, were arrived at from a study of the various 
books, and ample evidence is contained therein to confidently 
affirm their Inspiration. 

But the nature and character of a being, whether human or 
divine can only be truly estimated after a study of all the ac- 
tivities of that being, and that form of Inspiration which was 
given to chosen men for recording the Revelation of God is only 
one activity of the Holy Spirit. To gain a true idea of Inspira- 
tion it is necessary to observe the Holy Spirit at work in other 


Bishop Gore has pursued this method in his famous essay, 
and I will briefly enumerate the four points he makes with 
regard to the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church. 1 

1. The Holy Spirit treats man as a "social" being. Just as 
from the very beginning the Jew received the promises because 
he was a member of the Jewish race into which he was initiated 
after birth by circumcision, so from the beginnings of Christian 
life, a man was understood to become a Christian and receive 
the benefits of redemption by no other means than incorporation 
into the Christian society. 

2 The Spirit nourishes individuality. He gives us an in- 
tenser life, by which religion in general and Christianity in 
particular has always been propagated; and this intenser life 
is the product of right instincts, right affections, at first instilled 
into the mind by authority and afterwards acting spontaneously. 

3. The Holy Spirit claims the whole of nature for itself and 
consecrates it. Everything in Christianity is realised "in flesh 
as in spirit." The spiritual is not the immaterial, for we be- 
come spiritual not by any change or curtailment of nature, not 
by any depreciation or ignoring of the body. The material and 
the spiritual are to be one, as the "Word made flesh" has re- 
vealed and perpetuated. 

4. The Spirit's method in recovering the world from sin is a 
gradual process. He lifts man by little and little. He condes- 
cends to man's infirmity; He puts up with him as he is, if only 
He can at last bring him back to God. 

Then Dr. Gore proceeds to deal with the relation between 
the Bible and the Church. "It is," he says "becoming more and 
more difficult to believe in the Bible, without believing in the 
Church." We may say of all the books of the Bible, that they 
were written as occasion required, within the Church and for 
the Church. They presuppose membership in it and familiarity 
with its tradition. They are secondary, not primary instructors: 
for edification, not for initiation. The Scripture was regarded by 

1 See Lux Mundi pp. 322-8. 


the early Church as the highest utterance of the Spirit, the 
unique and constant test of the Church's life and teaching; but 
the Spirit in the Church interpreted the meaning of Scripture. 1 

From these general points and comprehensive remarks upon 
the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church, we can construct a 
few affirmations regarding the nature and character of Inspira- 

1. The Inspired work of a writer in the Bible is a voice from 
the Church of his time. He is under the influence of the Holy 
Spirit, and stands out above the other members of his Church, 
whether Jewish or Christian, as a chosen vessel, to hold the 
truth and distribute it among the body of believers. His work 
is not so much to record and interpret as to stir and keep alive 
in the Church the energizing influence of the Holy Spirit. He is 
the human agent of the Divine power which chooses to work 
among men by means of men. 

2. We see that Inspiration is primarily a spiritual gift and 
only secondarily a mental one. The individuality of the writer 
must come out, for the Holy Spirit possesses the man, and In- 
spiration acts upon him without changing his true character. 
It elevates his aim and directs his special qualities into 
their right channel. Intensity of purpose has always been accom- 
panied in man by mental and physical limitations. 

3. But the human weaknesses of the Written Word, as re- 
presenting the limitations of the human writer are, as it seems, 
not merely tolerated by the Divine Spirit, but positively wel- 
comed by Him as an evidence of man's struggle towards spiritual 
freedom. One purpose in creation may not irrevently be said 
to be the desire of God to draw the whole of nature to Himself. 
Each part of man is to be cleansed and strengthened that it 
may take its proper place in his real being/'that the man of God 

1 See Lux Mundi pp. 338-9. 


may be complete;"! and no member or passion or feeling must be 
atrophied through want of use any more than it may be 
allowed to work ruin by abuse. " The whole creation groaneth 
and travaileth in pain together until now * * waiting for 
the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body."2 
Those who would annihilate the material side of their nature 
have forgotten the presence of Christ's perfect Manhood at the 
right hand of God. 

4. Because God is waiting to receive our perfected manhood 
at the last, the gradual training and growing knowledge we 
perceive in the Inspired writers are sure marks of the Spirit's 
presence. They are the signs of His work, which through 
thousands of years of patient pleading and guiding lead up to 
the coming of the Incarnate Word. Though the Revelation of 
God given to us in the Gospels is fuller, deeper, broader far 
than that which was given to the Jews — in the Psalms, for in- 
stance — nothing is taken away from the Jewish writings, not 
even those revengeful words which seem to us to mar the 
spiritual beauty of the whole book. Nothing has been taken 
away, but something has been added: the fulness of truth in 
the writings, the fulness of grace in the individual. Therein we 
see the analogy that exists between the Written Word and the 
Incarnate Word, who was full of grace and truth. 

Just as the body which He has taken with Him into the 
Heavens is the same and yet not the same as that which hung 
upon the Cross and was laid in the Tomb, just as that body of 
ours by which we shall be recognized on the Resurrection morn- 
ing is the same and yet not the same as that which so feebly 
struggles here, so the Inspired Scriptures will not pass away 
but will remain the same, with all the human blemishes, all the 
marks of character which we distinguish and recognize, which 

1 2 Timothy III-17-RV. the words immediately following 
"Every Scripture inspired of God is also profitable for in- 
struction which is in righteousness." 

2 Romans VIII-22. 


also we feel God recognizes and even welcomes in the Written 
Word, like the stamp of character He will look for in the per- 
sons of His redeemed. 

We have gradually passed into the consideration of our 
fourth point. 

The Analogy of the Written Word with the Incarnate Word. 

" The Spirit of Life " — to use St. Paul's phrase — has 
from the very beginning, carried on His distinctive work in 
creation — not to create, but to evolve order from chaos, and 
breathe life into lifeless matter. He it was who brooded over 
the face of the waters. As the " Finger of God " He moulded 
and finished off in detail the designs of the Godhead. It was 
He who prepared the way for the Incarnation. It is He who 
fashions the character and the destiny both of nature and of 
individual men in such a way as to conduce to the glory of 
Christ, who is the object and purpose of all. It was His espe- 
cial mission to take of the substance of the Blessed Virgin, 
to overshadow her, and to generate " the Word that was made 

And " where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." 
(2 Cor. III. 17.)— to quote St. Paul again. In all His life-giving 
operations He does not create, He inspires and reorganises, He 
transforms and quickens. So it is that He takes the thoughts 
and words of men, ancient traditions, family narratives, nation- 
al records, words of human wisdom, laws and institutions — 
things in themselves temporary and partial — and makes them 
into the everlasting word of God. So the written word of God 
was produced by the Inspiration of the same Holy Spirit, acting 
upon the wills and minds of chosen men. 

It seems to me that because due consideration has not been 
given to the close analogy existing between the Written Word and 
the Incarnate Word, the two great errors which in one case 
tried to minimise Christ's Humanity, and in the other to 


minimise His Divinity, have been extended to the Written Word. 
The problem of Inspiration involves the solution of the problem 
of the Incarnation — the co-existence of the Finite and the 
Infinite. The presence of our Lord on earth in finite time has 
solved the one problem and we know that God and man can 
fully co-operate together, as they did in the person of Jesus 
Christ, who had all divine and all human attributes — Perfect 
God and Perfect Man. 

The teaching of history should guard us against removing 
the human element from the Written Word, just as it estab- 
lishes our deepset faith in the Inspiration of the Scriptures, 
their divine element. 

The Written Word is in the nature of a Sacrament. Its 
human, outward form and its divine, inward Inspiration make 
up one complete whole. That which we can see and understand 
is not exclusively human and that which it reveals to us of God 
is not exclusively divine. Yet there is no confusion of sub- 
stance; for we can discern in the Written Word, only less clearly 
than in the Incarnate Word, the properties of God and the pro- 
perties of man, and we must accept to the fullest extent and in 
their fullest consequences as well, those facts which manifest to 
us the ignorance and weakness of man, as well as those which 
manifest the wisdom and power of God. 

The Written Word is a &>ov lufvxov not a dead mechan- 
ical record, but a living, vital organism, with life-giving power. 
The Spirit of Life took of the substance of man's mind, over- 
shadowed it and generated and quickened that which comes to 
us now as our Bible. Its various parts developed as the Church 
needed them. "Being a body, its members are not all equal. 
Some are fuller of life, some nave a greater beauty, some a 
wider usefulness, ^ome we could lose without overpowering 
loss; some on the other hand, are essential to the life of the 
whole. The Old Testament dies if cut off from the New. The 
Epistles lose all their power if the Gospels are taken away."l 

l Dr. Watson p-213. 


And all these members are knit together and controlled by 
one Central Intelligence, the Spirit of God who generated them, 
who is the life-giving power of the whole. It is He who 
inspires the devout reader. He it is whom Christ gave to His 
Church to lead it into all truth, to take of the glory of Christ, 
as revealed in every part of the Bible and show it unto us. 

As that which embodies the truth, the Written Word has 
been attacked in the same way as the Jews sought to kill Christ, 
"a, man that hath told you the truth :"l but like the Incarnate 
Word, the Written Word is triumphant over assault. It passes 
through the midst of its enemies unscathed- and continues its 
life-giving work in the Church for the final redemption of all 

But enquiry and investigation and research in the Written 
Word by devout minds are not attacks. The Incarnate Word 
Himself said: "I have many things to say unto you, but ye can- 
not bear them now;"2 and we may well believe that truths which 
are now coming out about the nature of the Bible were poten- 
tially, at least, included among the "many things" referred to 
by the Saviour. The anxious enquirer who had faith in Christ 
was not treated by Him as an enemy: on the contrary, he was 
instructed patiently, and nearly always in a very significant 
way. Our Lord submitted another question, to draw out, if 
possible, the truth from the man himself: and failing this, to 
extract the man's idea of the truth and then to correct and 
amplify it. 

For example, St. Peter's affirmation that Jesus was the 
Christ, the Son of the living God, was in answer to Christ's 
repeated question. 3 On another occasion He asks St. Peter's 
opinion" What thinkest thou, Simon P"4 and the disciple's natur- 
al perception seizes on the truth. These are only two, among 
many instances of the way in which Christ used the human in- 

1 St. John VIII-40. 2 St. John XVI-12. 

3 St. Matthew XVI-13-16. 4 St. Matthew XVII-25. 


telligence of His disciples to express or outline divine truths. It 
was merely the Socratic method in its perfection, practised 
by a greater than Socrates. It is, in fact, a critical method, 
sanctioned by Christ Himself. Who then will deny not only the 
usefulness but also the necessity of it for intelligent enquirers 
of the Written Word, provided it is practised in a devout and 
humble spirit ? 

Like the Incarnate Word, the Written Word is a living 
teacher, who answers our questions, suggests others for our 
intelligence to answer, and amplifies and corrects our imper- 
fect notions of divine things. But we must be very careful 
not to presume on our position like St. Peter did. "Then Peter 
took him and began to rebuke him" — to deny a truth Christ has 
just outlined — but He turned and said unto Peter, "Get thee 
behind me, Satan, thou art an offence unto me: for thou 
savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of 
men/'l A terrible warning to those who study the word of God 
in any other way than as a devout and humble learner. 

Lastly, the analogy holds closer than ever in the complete 
sufficiency of both the Incarnate Word and the Written Word for 
every living soul. It matters not who came to Christ for 
teaching, advice or consolation, whether the enquirer was a 
master of the Jews, a lawyer, an ignorant fisherman, or a degrad- 
ed publican, every devout learner was drawn towards the In- 
carnate Word and received from Him just what his doubts or 
trials or sorrows needed. 

So with the Written Word, no mind however intellectual, 
however simple, as long as it is coupled with a believing heart, 
can turn its pages and fail to make its truths his own, for 
" All the lore its scholars need 
are " pure eyes and Christian hearts." 

In conclusion we may say that an attitude towards the 
Bible such as we have adopted is more in accordance with the 

1 St. Matthew XVI-22-23. 

results of a devout study of it than the so-called traditional 
attitude. It gives play to reason, but keeps it within bounds 
by faith. It does not assume any primal antagonism between 
the two. We believe that the truths of the Bible have in this 
way become more accessible, because our human nature no less 
than our spiritual nature is brought more into touch with it. We 
know that the Holy Spirit claims the whole of nature for itself 
and consecrates it. Everything in Christianity is realized "in 
flesh as in spirit." The spiritual is not the immaterial; for the 
material and the spiritual are to be one as "the word made 
flesh" has revealed and perpetuated. And by this attitude 
we gain an unassailable position. We have nothing to fear 
from the destructive critic : " Fear not them which kill 
the body, but are not able to kill the soul."l The soul of the 
Bible, its Inspiration, has irrefutable evidence in history and 
in human experience. 

"It is said that in 1863, in the American Civil War, when 
Fort Sumter was bombarded by Federal warships and the for- 
tifications were rapidly reduced to ruins, it seemed as though 
the fort must soon surrender. But the more the walls were 
battered down, the stronger the fortress became, and when the 
fortificatioins had been practically demolished by bombardment 
the fort was impregnable. "2 

The defences set up, at different periods, to protect the 
Bible and invest it with an authority outside itself, have been 
in accordance with God's plan. At an age when it was impos- 
sible to discriminate between the divine and the man, they 
were necessary, or the divine and the human would have fallen 

The Rabbis hedged round and fenced in the Law with an 
elaborate ritual and tradition; but when our Lord came, He 
pointed out, not only its weakness as a defence, but also its 
dancer to the Church itself. Other defences have from time 

l St. Matthew X-28. 2 Dr. Mortimer vol. II. -p. -231. 


to time, been arbitrarily erected: but it is not in these that we 
must trust, neither must we be dismayed, when they break down. 
The strength of the Bible lies in its natural position, which is 
unassailable. As the living organism which has grown up and 
is energized by the direct influence of the Holy Spirit, who 
chooses to work amongst men by means of men, it remains, after 
every fresh attack has been delivered, and when each new light 
is thrown upon it, 

" The Impregnable Rock of Holy Scripture/'